Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Cellphones Affect Brain Functions; Pension Battle Looms in Sacramento

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellphones affects human brain functions, according to a new study by the National Institutes of Health, the Chron reports. However, the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stops short of concluding that cellphones are hazardous to your health. Nonetheless, the results are expected to prompt more research on cellphones and electromagnetic radiation and fuel more debate over their possible health effects.

2. A battle over public-employee pensions is looming in Sacramento as business groups and Republican lawmakers are putting pressure on Governor Jerry Brown to address the issue, the Chron reports. So far, Brown has resisted including any cuts to public-employee compensation in his proposal to close the $26 billion state budget deficit. But he may have to do so if he has any chance of getting his proposed tax measure on the June ballot.

3. California taxpayers spent $55 million last year on community college classes designed specifically for athletes, the Chron reports. The classes included “Beginning Theory of Offensive Football,” “Defensive Baseball Skills 2,” and “Advanced Strategies of Soccer.” The nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office calls the sports classes nothing more than “practice time” for athletes. But community colleges defend the expenditures as necessary for maintaining sports programs.

4. As the governor moves forward with his plan to kill redevelopment agencies, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to commit $128 million in redevelopment funds on local projects, the Trib reports. The move exempts the projects from Brown’s proposal, and it mirrors actions by numerous other local governments throughout the state.

5. Alameda County transportation officials may ask county voters next year to temporarily increase the local sales tax rate by three-quarters of a percent to pay for local transportation projects, the CoCo Times reports. The move would raise the countywide sales tax rate to 10 percent from 2013 to 2022.

6. The two teens who died while rafting in Walnut Creek over the weekend may have drowned in a concrete chute with 20-foot vertical walls on both sides, the Chron reports.

7. And it could snow in the Bay Area this Saturday at sea level for the first time since 1976, the Chron reports.

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